The Statice Heights Learning Circle
We, the women from Statice Heights, are meeting every Thursday from 10.30 am until 12.30pm at the Athlone Community Centre. Our participants are between 19 and 59 years old and we all come the long way from Statice Heights. Our coordinator is Amina Rajap, who has been a community activists herself for a long time.
Our circle exists since 2006 and participants have come and gone, as we try to give opportunities for employment for the younger women if possible. We are all unemployed, seeking for a steady income. Besides the unemployment, we have all experienced different challenges in our lives. Some of us are widows, others fight with serious health problems such as cancer or the consequences of a stroke. Problems of our society, like drug addiction, poverty, criminality and violence do mirror in our daily lives at home and in the community.
At the beginning of each meeting, we start with a prayer. We then go around and ask how the past week has been. After sharing our expectations for today’s session, we choose one of us to do an icebreaker to get energized. We will then start into the session on a topic, which we decided the week before to work on.
During the years, we have dealt with a huge variety of different issues such as child abuse, unemployment, poverty and rape. Furthermore, we try to cooperate with other organizations and institutions such as the UCT, Mothers Unite or the City. We did a whole range of workshops in art and craft, first aid and social development. Also, we get further training to increase our chances for employement: computer classes, writing a CV or a hairdressing workshop for instant. Throughout the year, we also engage in different activities such as the Women’s Day, the 16 Days of Activism or a Photo Voice Exhibition. Moreover, we are part of a Neighbourhood Watch in our area to improve security, puting ourselves at risk sometimes.
Our Learning Circle keeps us always busy and gives us plenty of opportunities to engage in our community and to interact and learn with and from each other. We are united on our hope to improve society in South Africa for us and the youth. We want to be role models for others; this gives us motivation and inspiration for our work.
“I am excited to come to the meetings. I meet different people and we talk about various things. Some things make me happy, some make me sad.”
” Sometimes, for me as coordinator, it can be a struggle to keep the ladies motivated as we can not provide food for example. But I am holding on to the group, because often this Learning Circle is the only support these women have.”
Statice Heights is a very small community with only approximately 236 houses in twelve streets. It is located on highly erodible, sandy soil between two small rivers on the Cape Flats. After ten years of negotiation, over 200 families have received the title deeds for their new homes in Statice Heights, as part of the City of Cape Town’s commitment to address the housing backlog in the Athlone area and to allow residents the dignity and economic benefits of home ownership. Our coordinator Amina Rajap was heavily involved in this Housing Project, which finally succeded in 2012. However, the community is still in a difficult place, facing drug problems, gangsterism and a high rate of unemployment. The lack of infrastructure in terms of schools, doctors or even a community centre makes it difficult to activate the people. We are hoping to get a container in the nearer future to be able to have our own community centre and to get more and younger people to come to work with us.